Posts Tagged ‘books’

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Our Miss York

April 9, 2020

611Id3BMbwL._SY679_I think what we all need during this frankly awful time is, yes, another book from the teens about a young woman earning a living. Happy ending a must.

I can’t find out much about Edwin Bateman Morris, but he has an intriguing list of titles, and he was apparently considered worthy of Coles Phillips cover art. And while Our Miss York didn’t wow me, it has a lot of great elements.

Margaret York is an orphan, reluctantly adopted by an uncle who has no patience for children, and less money than he once did. She grows up industrious and efficient, in contrast to her friend David Bruce, who has a moderate income and drifts from hobby to hobby without ever settling down to work at anything. When Margaret’s uncle dies, she takes a stenography course and goes to work at the Waring Company. She learns the business as thoroughly as she can, and draws the attention of Willis Potter, the director, who gives her advice and steers her towards new opportunities–though whether for her benefit or his own, it’s not always clear.

Margaret does well–has some adventures, reconnects with her childhood friend David, makes friends with an older businesswoman–but, as books like this too often do, Our Miss York narrows down to the old business or family question, and the answer is a little too much of a foregone conclusion. Also, I would have liked to see Morris tie together and follow through on threads that he only casts in the same direction, like how Margaret’s upbringing–or lack of it–influences her. But it’s hard to complain about a book full of people being good at things, where the heroine gets to have both personal and professional success, and also pilot a motorboat. I don’t love Our Miss York, but I do recommend it.

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Dora’s Housekeeping

March 30, 2020

What we all need in the middle of a pandemic–if we have the time/energy/attention span–is some light reading. I’ll try to find some for you soon, but for now: Dora’s Housekeeping, by Elizabeth Stansbury Kirkland, is very dull.

You know how Ten Dollars Enough can drag a little when there are too many recipes in a row? Dora’s Housekeeping never stops dragging. I recommending getting your cookbook-in-novel’s-clothing fix elsewhere.

Oh, you want to know what it’s about? Well, Dora Greenwood is a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl with four younger siblings. Her mother is sent abroad to recover from an illness, and Dora takes over as housekeeper. She’s got a helpful aunt and cousin next door, but she has trouble finding and keeping a good cook, and she still has to go to school.

I liked that Dora has the capacity to be a bit of a brat–sure, you’re definitely the person most affected by your servant’s mother’s illness–and that her father is a little finicky and not always as nice as one would wish. But Kirkland really looks down on the servants, and there’s too many recipes to too little story.

This is a sort of a sequel to Six Little Cooks; or, Aunt Jane’s Cooking Class, in which Dora’s helpful aunt teaches Dora’s cousins to cook. I think I won’t read it.

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The Blue Envelope

March 13, 2020

Is a book ever as good all the way through, especially when there’s a romantic climax to get through and authors can’t be depended on not to forget what their characters are actually like, or pretend that actually it was love at first sight? Sophie Kerr, author of The Blue Envelope (not to be confused with The Blue Envelope by Roy Snell), isn’t much more dependable in that way than the average author, but she built up so much good will in the first half of the book that I wasn’t really disappointed. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Gladiola Murphy

February 28, 2020

Gladiola Murphy is an interesting book. The things it does, it does well, but some of them would be better not done at all. The author is Ruth Sawyer, who also wrote the Newbery Medal-winning Roller Skates. This is about a child too, in the early parts, but it’s not for children.

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Support

February 24, 2020

Well, I continue to be extremely me: I really wish Margaret Ashmun had spent more of Support on the business venture Constance Moffat embarks on at least two thirds of the way into the book. Other than that, it’s a good divorce novel, it kept me guessing, and the ending is satisfying. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Rope

January 30, 2020

Do you ever read a book and wish the author just cared a little bit more about the things you cared about? Rope, by Holworthy Hall, sounded perfect for me, and it could have been, with a slightly different emphasis. As it is, it’s pretty great.

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The Strange Countess

January 17, 2020

What is there to say about an Edgar Wallace thriller, really? They’re all good in the way his books are good and bad in the way his books are bad.

The Strange Countess focuses on Lois Margaritta Reddle, who is about to leave the lawyer’s office where she works to become secretary to the Countess of Moron. She also has a young man who follows her around–she assumes he’s angling for an introduction–and a mother in prison, although she doesn’t know that until a few chapters in. Someone keeps making attempts on Lois’ life, and the countess and her friend Chauncey Praye are definitely up to no good. The young man turns out to be a detective, who’s interest in Lois isn’t romantic–at first. Then there’s the countess’ son Selwyn, who isn’t as stupid as people think, and Lois’ roommate Lizzy Smith. They remind me a bit of Dolph and Hannah in Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion.

What else do you need to know? Someone shoots a couple of dogs, but offstage, so to speak.